February 24, 2006
Case Law Development: Recognition of Custody Orders of Foreign Countries Required
The Massachusetts Supreme Court holds that a trial court must respect the custody determination of a foreign state so long as that judgment is procedurally comparable to a domestic judgment. The child in this action was born in Trinidad, West Indies and was residing in Boston with Mother. Father, who lives in Trinidad, filed a petition in the Massachusetts court to enforce a Trinidad consent decree that awarded the mother physical custody of the son, but prohibited either parent from taking the son out of Trinidad, except by agreement of the other parent or by court order. The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed the trial judge's order for enforcement of the Trinidad consent decree.
The court concluded that both under Massachusetts statutes regarding enforcement of foreign custody orders and under principles of comity, the court was required to respect the foreign order because it was in "substantial conformity" with Massachusetts law. The "substantial conformity" test, requires proof that the foreign court had jurisdiction over the parties and over the subject matter; applied procedural and substantive law reasonably comparable to Massachusetts law; and was based on a determination of the best interests of the child. Finding that the Trinidad court met these requirements, the court could not look further to examine the substance of the underlying order.
Khan v. Saminni, 2006 Mass. LEXIS 33 (February 15, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited February 23, 2006 bgf)
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